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The Rule of Reason

The Rule of Reason: The Philosophy of C.S. Peirce

Jacqueline Brunning
Paul Forster
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    The Rule of Reason
    Book Description:

    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), the founder of Pragmatism, was an American philosopher, logician, physicist, and mathematician. Since the publication of his collected papers in 1931, interest in Peirce has grown dramatically. His work has found audiences in such disciplines as philosophy, computer science, logic, film studies, semiotics, and literary criticism. While Peirce scholarship has advanced considerably since its earliest days, many controversies of interpretation persist, and several of the more obscure aspects of his work remain poorly understood.

    The Rule of Reasonis a collection of original essays examining Peirce's thought by some of the best-known scholars in the field. The contributors investigate outstanding issues and difficulties in his philosophy and situate his views in both their historical and their contemporary contexts. Some of the essays clarify aspects of Peirce's philosophy, some defend its contemporary significance, and some do both. The essays explore Peirce's work from various perspectives, considering the philosophical significance of his contributions to logic; the foundations of his philosophical system; his metaphysics and cosmology; his theories of inquiry and truth; and his theories of mind, agency, and selfhood.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8227-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Charles Peirce (1839–1914) never produced a systematic statement of his philosophy. Much of his most original philosophical work was never published or even read by his contemporaries. However, while Peirce’s influence on the thought of his time was confined to a small group of philosophers and logicians, his knowledge of the intellectual scene of that period was anything but limited. Controversies of detail aside, Peirce attempted to develop and to systematize the most exciting discoveries of his day (several of which were his own) in a broad range of disciplines.

    Since the publication of hisCollected Papersbegan in...

  6. The Place of C.S. Peirce in the History of Logical Theory
    (pp. 13-33)

    Speaking of someone’s ‘place in history’ is often a preface to eulogy. But we have come to study Peirce, not to praise him, and only incidentally to try to see that his good ideas are not interred with his bones or with his unpublished papers.

    One of the difficulties in studying Peirce is his elusiveness. Peirce’s writings are brim-full of perceptive and provocative ideas, but do they add up to a coherent overall view? Even though Peirce himself offers a general perspective on his own ideas, it is not clear how his specific results are supposed to be parts of...

  7. Inference and Logic According to Peirce
    (pp. 34-56)

    In hisMinute Logicof 1902, Peirce wrote:

    Logic is the science of the general necessary laws of Signs and especially of Symbols. As such, it has three departments. Obsistent logic, logic in the narrow sense, orCritical Logic, is the theory of the general conditions of the reference of Symbols and other Signs to their professed Objects, that is, it is the theory of the conditions of truth. Originalian logic, orSpeculative Grammar, is the doctrine of the general conditions of symbols and other signs having the significant character. Transuasional logic, which I termSpeculative Rhetoric, is substantially what...

  8. The Logical Foundations of Peirce’s Indeterminism
    (pp. 57-80)

    Discussions of Peirce’s indeterminism (the view he called ‘tychism’) have yet to address two important interpretive problems.¹ First of all, Peirce has been admired for being among the first, if not the first, to develop an indeterministic metaphysics. Yet Peirce’s arguments for this view, published in 1893 in ‘The Doctrine of Necessity Examined’ (6.35–65, 1892), are widely deemed inadequate.² This fact raises the question of how so precocious a metaphysical thesis could have developed from such flimsy arguments.

    Accompanying this question is a related biographical puzzle. Estimates of the date of Peirce’s discovery of indeterminism range from 1884 (the...

  9. A Tarski-Style Semantics for Peirce’s Beta Graphs
    (pp. 81-95)

    The ‘Beta’ part of Peirce’s System of Existential Graphs of 1896 – hereinafter designated by ‘EG-Beta’ – is a logical system that is at least the equivalent in scope and power of first-order predicate logic with identity (more precisely, with identity but without constants and without functions).¹ The most prominent feature of EG-Beta is a two-dimensional, ‘graphical’ syntax, which is inscribed on a surface that Peirce calls a ‘sheet of assertion.’ In this syntax, n-adic (or: n-ary) predicates appear as ‘spots’ that have n ‘hooks.’ The graphs of EG-Beta make no use at all of variables, so that EG-Beta is...

  10. The Tinctures and Implicit Quantification over Worlds
    (pp. 96-119)

    The diagrammatic nature of mathematical reasoning suggests that as my power to create diagrams increases, so too will my capacity for fruitful mathematical reasoning. Peirce’s own work involved an unending series of experiments with different diagrammatic notations, all interesting, some difficult, some extremely fruitful. And the diagrammatic notations available are not only a function of some kind of ‘internal mental activity.’ As Dewey has noted, ‘Breathing is an affair of the air as truly as of the lungs; digesting an affair of food as truly as of tissues of stomach’ (Dewey 15); so, analogously, is mathematical reasoning an affair of...

  11. Pragmatic Experimentalism and the Derivation of the Categories
    (pp. 120-138)

    It is generally held that Peirce’s philosophy incorporates diverse methods for obtaining the categories, a priori deduction from mathematical principles, and phenomenological inquiry. This diversity is in turn held to evince different systems chronologically developed,¹ or a conflict between naturalist and transcendentalist strains of his thought.² The present paper will first attempt to show that one method, the phenomenological method, is at work in Peirce’s derivation of the categories, though he of course did not use this term until late in his career, and to decipher the distinctively pragmatic character of its dynamics with the implicit pluralism it involves. The...

  12. Classical Pragmatism and Pragmatism’s Proof
    (pp. 139-152)

    It is commonplace to think of pragmatism in terms of its two principal varieties, one of which stems from Charles Peirce and the other from William James. The first alone is deemed classical, for what sets Peirce apart, both in kind and degree, is his enthusiastic embrace of a philosophical tradition traceable to classical Greek philosophy, onto which is grafted the notion of a right method, a method unabashedly scientific. ‘I stand before you an Aristotelian and a scientific man,’ Peirce once declared (1.619). It is this amalgam of the classical and the modern, the old and the new, that...

  13. The Logical Structure of Idealism: C.S. Peirce’s Search for a Logic of Mental Processes
    (pp. 153-184)

    There is something mysterious, obscure, and, for some people, even repulsive about the idealism in Peirce’s philosophy. In fact, very often people talk about rather different theses when they talk about Peirce’s idealism.¹ Is it

    i) a metaphysical thesis about the nature of realityin toto, that is, the thesis that the ultimate reality is mental? or,

    ii) an epistemological (Kantian) thesis grounded in a theory of mind about the way in which the structure of mind and mental activity relates to its objects, that is, the thesis that the categorical structure of our minds determines the order and the...

  14. Charles Peirce and the Origin of Interpretation
    (pp. 185-200)

    It is a well-known Peircean principle that thoughts are signs, and thinking is semiosis or sign processing. However, semiosis does not spring full-blown into consciousness. Moments of experience that appear to be meaningful must originate somewhere and at some time. Where and when does this origin occur?¹ Is a sensation and what is sensed, a red patch, for instance, a pure given that remains to be interpreted? Is the red patch that is given for sensation already an interpreted datum? Or is there a third possibility? Even if interpretation has taken place and the red patch that appears is an...

  15. Sentiment and Self-Control
    (pp. 201-222)

    Peirce makes apparently conflicting remarks about the relations of reason and sentiment. Sometimes they are quite sharply contrasted. When discussing the a priori method of settling opinions in ‘The Fixation of Belief,’ he comments that it makes opinion a matter of taste or fashion. His argument for the view that this introduces a capricious or accidental element into the fixation of belief rests on the observation that ‘sentiments in their development will be very greatly determined by accidental causes,’ and he suggests that someone who notices that a belief has been caused by something ‘extraneous to the facts ... will...

  16. A Political Dimension of Fixing Belief
    (pp. 223-240)

    My purpose in this paper is not to unfold a complete Peircean political philosophy. As I shall indicate below, Charles Peirce spent little of his time directly engaged with questions of political philosophy. Rather, I hope to provide a brief sketch of one dimension of Peirce’s political thought, construing ‘political’ here in the broad sense of being concerned with the structure and health of the polis or community. My reason for wanting to do this is that Peirce seems to offer a moment of resistance to the experimentalist and pragmatic political thinking that runs from Jefferson to John Dewey and,...

  17. The First Rule of Reason
    (pp. 241-261)

    What Peirce calls ‘the first rule of reason’ (FRR) is not, as those familiar with his pioneering work in formal logic might guess, some fundamental logical principle such as the law of identity or non-contradiction; nor, as those better acquainted with his theory of inquiry might hazard, the famous maxim: ‘do not block the way of inquiry’ – though that is much closer, for Peirce describes this maxim as a direct consequence of the first rule of reason. The key passage runs:

    Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you...

  18. The Dynamical Object and the Deliberative Subject
    (pp. 262-288)

    Near the conclusion ofAn Introduction to C.S. Peirce’s Full System of Semeiotic, David Savan suggests that: ‘The most important turning point in the history of a sign or a set of signs is the point at which deliberate critical appraisal of the norms themselves begins’ (1987–8, 63).¹ It is one thing to rely upon signs in our interpretations of utterances or in our explanations of phenomena; it is quite another to do so in a self-conscious, self-critical, and self-controlled way. In short, reliance upon signs does not entail consciousness (much less criticism or control) of them: though we...

  19. Hypostatic Abstraction in Self-Consciousness
    (pp. 289-308)
    T.L. SHORT

    Peirce held that we have no direct knowledge of ourselves (or, as he said, of ‘the inner world’) but know ourselves only by ‘hypothetical reasoning from our knowledge of external facts’ (5.265).¹ It is not immediately obvious that inferring the ‘inner’ from the ‘outer’ is possible. From where would a concept of the inner come if we never observe it directly but know it only by inference from something else that, by conception, is quite different? This question is made no easier by Peirce’s famous dictum: ‘The elements of every concept enter into logical thought at the gate of perception...

  20. David Savan: In Memoriam
    (pp. 309-312)

    David Savan played many public roles. He was a devoted friend of graduate students, and for several years administered a bursary fund to which he himself contributed heavily (and very quietly). He was a devoted teacher. He was very active in defence of political prisoners. But he was very deeply, perhaps most deeply, a philosopher.

    Although he thought widely in philosophy and published on figures from Plato to Dewey, two philosophers occupied him most fully – Spinoza and Peirce. There is much which unites these two, but one thing seems to me of signal importance in explaining David Savan’s interest...

  21. Contributors
    (pp. 313-316)